Posts Tagged ‘rubyconf_au’

How the anti-harassment policy helped at Rubyconf AU

February 27, 2014

At Rubyconf Australia 2014, I attended one of the workshops. For the workshop, the presenter was planning on using Lena.jpg, a picture derived from Playboy. For more information on the image, see the Geek Feminism Wiki article Lena Söderberg’s photograph. Because of the anti-harassment policy, I was able to stop that from happening.

How did the policy help? It meant that the image was clearly not allowed in the workshop. To quote the policy:

Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks.

As the Geek Feminism Wiki notes, even though the image is not explicit, it is sexualised. Since the image was clearly not allowed, I knew that telling the presenter not to use it would be a quick and easy process. No long drawn-out arguments. If he decided not to change the content, then I’d notify the organisers, and he’d be shown the door if need be. This gave me the confidence to tell him not to use it.

Thankfully, dealing with the image was quick and easy. There was a very short discussion, and we agreed not to use the image.

One troubling aspect was that he said during the discussion that he hadn’t read the anti-harassment policy. If true, this is a failing not only on the presenter’s part, but on the conference as well.

I didn’t discuss the incident on the day with the conference organisers, as it had been resolved promptly, and I wasn’t worried about further behaviour later in the conference. However, I mentioned the incident to a conference organiser during the party after the last day, and to all organisers in an email giving feedback on a variety of topics about the conference two days after the conference.

The organisers have announced that they will be more active about the code of conduct in future conferences. I hope this will improve things.

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RubyConf Australia

October 12, 2013

RubyConf Australia 2014

RubyConf Australia 2014 will be Australia’s second Ruby conference. It will be held in Sydney in Luna Park, an amusement park. The workshops will be on February 19, and the talks will be on February 20 and 21.

About Australia

Australia has an active Ruby community, because many programmers are able to use Ruby on Rails at work. We have Ruby meetup groups in many cities in Australia.

We also hold an event every six months called “Rails Camp”. Rubyists from all around Australia go to a retreat. We have no internet access, just a wi-fi network. We do hacking, and give talks, and play games such as werewolf (Japanese link: 汝は人狼なりや?). And we drink! At the end of Rails Camp, there is a session where many people give lightning talks on what they worked on at the camp, no matter how beginner or advanced the project is. The first one was held in June 2007, and the fourteenth Rails Camp will be held in November.

Australia has an international-minded Ruby community. Many people in the Australian Ruby community are from overseas, and some Australians have moved overseas for work. We also attend overseas conferences, including Red Dot Ruby Conf and RubyKaigi. I’ve been to RubyKaigi  2011, Sapporo RubyKaigi, RubyKaigi 2013, and plan to go to RubyConf Taiwan next year.

Australia is regarded as a slightly expensive destination, but it’s possible to reduce your expenses by choosing less expensive accommodation and restaurants.

Workshops

RubyConf Australia 2013’s workshops were on the day before the talks, and the same will happen in 2014. There were five different workshops available. “Advanced Ruby” by Dave Thomas, “Code Retreat” by Corey Haines, “JRuby” by Hiro Asari and Charles Nutter, “Rails4iOS” by Lori M Olson and Tim Breitkreutz, and “Rails Girls” by Robert Postill, Kai Lemmetty, and Susan Jones. I attended the JRuby one, and found it an excellent experience. Charles and Hiro were really helpful, and I learnt a lot.

Keynote talks

There were four keynote talks given in 2013. The first was by Corey Haines, the co-founder of Code Retreat. He promoted the idea of #EmuMarch, in which you *emu*late someone you admire during the month of *March*. (His slides also had pictures of emus in them) At the end of the first day of talks, the internationally famous Aaron “Tenderlove” Patterson gave an amusing but useful keynote.

For the start of the second day of talks, the keynote was given by Australian Rubyist Mikel Lindsaar. He talked about how Ruby and Rails can and will succeed in the future and your right as an employee to deliver value. Before attending this talk, I wondered “If Ruby makes programmers happy, what language makes bosses happy?”. Because of that talk, I realized that Ruby is the language that makes bosses happy.

The closing keynote was “The Ruby Language”, by Dave Thomas. I learnt from the talk that the Himba people in Namibia have a completely different way of describing colours than English-speakers or Japanese-speakers have. Because they describe colours in a different way, they can distinguish colours that look identical to me, but can’t distinguish colours that appear completely different to me.

Other talks

The talks in 2013 were diverse and enlightening. They were given by both international and local speakers. Some of the most esoteric talks were “Sinatra in SIX lines – How to do crazy stuff with Ruby” by Konstantin Haase, and “Hacking with Gems” by Benjamin Smith, which talked about security exploits that can be put into Ruby gems. Meanwhile, Carina C. Zona’s talk “Schemas for the Real World” made us question what assumptions are made by social networking sites about people’s identities.

Less esoteric, but equally enlightening, talks were given about topics such as immutability, concurrency, and performance.

Social Activities and Touring

Social activities were held on the night after the workshop, and on each of the nights of the conference. However, on one of the nights I chose instead to have dinner with a few attendees at one of the many ethnic restaurants available near the venue.

On the day after the conference, I happened to spot a Rubyist showing other Rubyists around the city. I joined the group, and we saw various sights.

__goto__ :rubyconf_au_2014

“Egg” (pre early-bird) tickets are available until October 28. Other tickets will be available afterwards, but with less of a discount. Scholarships to attend the event are also available.

The Call For Proposals is open until October 31. Proposals will be made by Github pull requests, which was inspired by Sapporo RubyKaigi.

The official site is http://www.rubyconf.org.au/ . For updates, follow us on twitter at @rubyconf_au, or subscribe to our mailing list.

To find out more about 2013’s conference, watch the videos on Vimeo, check out Eventifier, or visit the Lanyrd site for 2013.

We hope to see you there!